A police department tried to do damage control Monday after its officer’s racist remark sparked outrage in Maryland. The Prince George’s County cop, who is white, made an example out of “Black bad guys” as suspects during a school lesson about police dogs.
The incident involving the unidentified officer was broadcast live on the Prince George’s County Police Department Facebook account on Friday, NBC-owned WRC-TV reported.
“He [K-9] knows from his training that he sits down when he finds something, when the handler tells him, that has human odor on it. So, for instance, if a black bad guy is running and he drops a cell phone, or he drops this piece of leather that may have evidence or DNA on it,” the on-camera officer said to young children.
The incident shed light on implicit bias within police departments, a pattern that has played a detrimental role in fatal cop-involved shootings and brutality cases. Prince George’s Police Department has a history of discrimination allegations on its record, including from more than 120 of its own officers who issued formal statements with the Department of Justice about a “racist, unfair workplace” earlier this year. All department officers have been undergoing anti-bias training.
There is much more training that needs to happen, with the department’s statements on the K-9 incident not being enough.
“During that presentation, one of our handlers made an unfortunate remark. The reality is that that officer misspoke,” Prince George’s County Police Department Chief Hank Stawinski said. “I have talked to the officer, and he’s very troubled by the response that this is eliciting in comparison to his record of service for this community.”
Stawinski continued: “What I know is that this community doesn’t expect us to be perfect. It does expect us to acknowledge when we’ve made a mistake, and that’s what I’m doing today. So, on behalf of that officer and this institution, I apologize to this community for that unfortunate remark,” he said. “But I want you to know that that remark does not represent who that officer is, and it does not represent what this institution stands for.”
The Maryland officer’s comments promote more bias and perpetuate the myth of all Black people being criminals. Hopefully, the department will really do more to address this damning issue.